Sparky is a desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). Desert tortoises are a threatened species due to disappearance of their habitat. The phenomenal growth of Las Vegas has had the side effect of displacing large numbers of desert tortoises. Programs which involve relocation and adoption have been implemented to aid these creatures.
Sparky was hatched in captivity in the spring of 1999. We're calling Sparky a "he" because at this point we don't know what sex it is. The length of his shell is approx. 2.75 inches. So, unless you are viewing this page on an extremely small monitor, the above image is much larger than his actual size!
Sparky is currently being kept as a "free range" tortoise, to the extent that our back yard allows. At his current size (and traveling speed), his "world" is fairly large. He stays pretty much in one area, and likes to hide most of the time (at his current size, large birds are his main enemies). He grazes on grape leaves, clover, dandelions, and numerous weeds. Since the automatic sprinklers operate twice daily, he has a constant water supply (although he has never been observed to drink water directly). When we do spot Sparky, out and about (usually near dusk), we feed him treats - bok choy leaves, bean sprouts, or the occasional piece of fruit. He seems to enjoy these foods, and readily accepts them from the hand.